Scotland Elementary News
There’s nothing we enjoy more than sharing all the great news about our students and staff members. We love featuring their accomplishments and celebrating with them. And we have a lot to share! Stop by here regularly to read about student and staff awards, past happenings, upcoming events, and so much more!
The Ridgefield Board of Education continued its deliberations of the school capacity study during the January 9 board of education meeting. To learn more about the study, we invite you to view the links below.
Our communications coordinator reports on professional development in our k-5 schools with the Teacher's College reading and writing project. Please view details of the project for more information.
In the month of January 2017, Ridgefield Public Schools will close on Monday, January 16 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Please review the district calendar on our District Calendar page. Board of education (BOE) meetings will take place on Monday, January 9 and Monday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m. Please visit our Board of Education page to learn more about the BOE and how to view meetings live online.
Please keep these holiday calendar highlights in mind!
All RPS schools will have early dismissal on Friday, December 23 to begin our winter break. All schools will close December 26, 2016, through January 2, 2017. District offices also close during that time, except on Thursday, December 29 and for a half-day on December 30. This month’s BOE meeting is on December 12. Happy holidays everyone!
Ridgefield Public Schools is seeking your participation and feedback as part of its Strategic Coherence Planning process. Please plan on attending a facilitated focus group session for the purpose of providing your perspective and feedback relative to the district’s survey and the steps the district is initiating to prepare all students for their future in the global society. Focus group questions will target four key areas: the district's (1) Goals for Learning, (2) Teaching and Learning, (3) Measures of Student and Faculty Learning, and (4) External/Organizational Factors.
Focus Group Sessions (choose one)
- Monday, December 5, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. at the Town Annex, 66 Prospect Street, Ridgefield, CT
View the full presentations online:
The consulting firm of Milone & MacBroom have completed their report of enrollment projections for 2016-17 through 2026-27 and recommends that we do not close an elementary school at this time. These projections (see page 19) are based on many different factors and assumptions including birth rates, home sales, and unemployment rates.
They also provided an update on the capacity study, a strategic review of how our buildings are being utilized. For an interesting view at how a school built in the 1960’s can support only half the population it was designed for in the 21st century (see pages 29-30).
In creating the capacity report, the firm of Milone & MacBroom have studied floor plans, classroom use by grade level/subject, classrooms used for special education programs, specialty classrooms/labs, the presence of shared spaces, and accessibility such as elevators or barriers. That combined with teacher contract limits, class size guidelines for k-8, industry standards in educational design, and Connecticut School construction grants guidelines has resulted in a report on the projected capacity percentage for each building over the same 10 years (see pages 37, 40, and 43). Please note that Milone & MacBroom define capacity at 90% to build in necessary flexibility, thus a school at 100% capacity is actually not full to the brim but at a number that warrants a red flag indicating a need for close monitoring and strategic space utilization; this is a standard industry model.
The firm asked the board of education for direction on the various models of school configurations they wished them to apply to the capacity study data. The board chose several, from moving 5th into a 5th-8th grade configuration, creating a 5th-6th and 7th-8th grade system and others. They presented the results in a report to the board of education at the November 28 meeting, and there were no big standout models for how best to reconfigure, but a few possibilities that warrant deeper inquiry such as how the various options would affect bus scheduling and specialty class availability.
Our superintendent, Dr. Karen Baldwin, thanked them for their continued diligence in testing the assumptions our current policy is based on and they will make a report to the board of education on January 9, 2017. The board of education will discuss the planning assumptions in the capacity study and potential impacts of decision making at the December 12, 2016, board meeting. The board of education will determine what capacity study plan options to move forward for public input and administrative modeling inclusive of financial savings/impacts and educational innovations by January 23, 2017.
Superintendent Dr. Karen Baldwin joined our district in July 2015. Now in her second year she has created a strategic coherence planning committee with a big agenda, brought new insights to our capacity study, and continues to improve communication and collaboration within the district itself and the greater community. In light of our November 29 public film screening of “Most Likely to Succeed,” and the community discussions we hope will come from that, we asked Dr. Baldwin to answer a few questions about her work and contemporary education in Ridgefield. Read the interview here.
Question: What is a typical week in the district like for you as our superintendent?
Answer: My work weeks are filled with challenges, opportunities, excitement, and new learning. Leading a great school system on a pathway to growth, collaboration, and innovation for improved learning results necessitates several routines. Some of my weekly routines include meetings with the executive team (assistant superintendents, personnel, business, and facilities, technology leaders) to discuss our priority work and assess our project maps and deliverables. I try and think and guide the work with targets several months ahead, and all integral to a vision of providing all students access to engaging, relevant, and personalized learning opportunities. Connected to these weekly meetings is the need to build relationships with all members of the organization. Establishing a strong culture of trust and mutual regard is important if we are going to unleash the talent and potential within the system. I also meet weekly with the chairperson of the board of education to keep the administration’s work aligned and on course with the policy and governance role of the board of education. To assist with that aspect of my leadership work, the board has three subcommittees (policy, finance, and strategic planning) which also meet regularly. The best part of a typical week for me is the time I can spend in schools “seeing” the work in action. We have great students and smart, talented, and committed staff members. I learn every day that I am in a school. In any typical week, I am problem-solving with a school leader on student or staff matters that necessitate a broad and deep analysis of the issues and policy or statutory frameworks that inform our decision making.
Q: The strategic coherence planning committee includes administrators, teachers, board of education (BOE) members, and community members in an in-depth look at district practices in order to build coherence. Your focus will be on those “practices that have demonstrated over time to make the largest impact on student learning and preparation for life, learning, and work in a digital age.” Continued improvement is a goal for all successful businesses, but why is coherence across the district important to you as a means to greater success?
A: I think there are a couple of key ideas relative to the “why” of strategic planning and the need for coherence in the district. The district needs clear, measurable, understandable goals to guide our work with children and families for the foreseeable future. The strategic coherence planning process will result in goal development and will also produce the “Vision of the RHS Graduate.” One thing that we know through our work is that isolation is the enemy of improvement. We cannot improve and strengthen our work preparing students with the skills necessary for life in the global society by working alone. We need to create opportunities for teachers to work together in grade level and vertical (pre-k-12) teams, in and across schools and content areas, and look at instructional practices and student performance. This focusing of direction, and creating collaborative structures for teachers and leaders will lead to greater understanding of the core approaches that are used in the district to drive improved learning. We need to continue to strengthen opportunities to hear the parent voices and feedback in our work and communicate the direction of the district. Coherence is the depth of shared understanding about the key work we are doing in the district.
Q: The capacity study is at the forefront of discussions at the BOE and its results may indicate some form of reorganization of our schools. This is an important issue for all members of the community. One of the interesting aspects of that study was the comparison of how building use has changed over the years and the resulting reduced capacity created by the need for dedicated space for special services and technology, the ability to organize a classroom for collaborative learning, and in Ridgefield, the class size requirements in our k-5 schools. What unique perspectives are you bringing to this process?
A: I think it’s important to keep the perspective on the learning experience of the child. The capacity study provides an in-depth look at facility utilization in all nine schools and allows for our vision of teaching and learning for all children to be captured. One key element of the capacity study is that the consultants are testing the assumption that when k-5 enrollment drops below 2,000 students, an elementary school can be closed. As the consultants presented to the board of education at the November 14, 2016, regular meeting, that is a flawed assumption based on the projection and the timing of the enrollment rebound.
Q: Collaborative learning is a key aspect of 21st century education. You also see it as a key means of working with the district leadership team. What is it about our contemporary life that takes the traditional hierarchical, top down method of leadership, be it teacher to student, or principal to teacher, for instance, that demands we have a more collaborative relationship if we want to be successful learners and educators? What does this mean for how we communicate with all of our stakeholders in the education of Ridgefield students?
A: Our work is dynamic and challenging. The changes that have taken place in education over the last 6 years are the most widespread and demanding that I have seen in nearly 25 years as an educator. It necessitates a systems-orientation to the work and aligning our efforts on a few key goals all focused on improving outcomes and opportunities for children. All good ideas relative to how to progress in this environment or solve a problem or think about a task or a situation, don’t have to come from those who are “in charge.” One key aspect of my role is to be that of “lead learner.” If we can think of ourselves in that way, as always learning, then collaboration is a natural outgrowth. The system (classroom, school, or district) must be structured in such a way so that we can learn from one another. This means valuing diverse perspectives, cultivating communication and collaboration skills, and analyzing tasks. We want people to draw upon the depth of their experiences as students, teachers, and leaders and contribute to the growth and development of the system as a whole.
I think we need to continue to work on telling our story of the Ridgefield Public Schools. As part of that story, we need to be deeply focused on all of our children and their academic, social, emotional, and physical well-being. The world has changed; mere content knowledge is not enough for our students. They must leave school being able to communicate, collaborate, think critically and creatively, and embrace where they have come from and how they can move positively into the future.
A special thank you to Ruth W. Feldman, Ridgefield Public Schools communications coordinator, for this article
You won't want to miss our Parenting the #Selfie Generation series, "When Kids Won't Go: Coping with School Avoidance and Anxiety." Mark your calendars for Thursday, December 1, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ridgefield Library. This series is featuring Dr. Aaron Krasner, MD with Silver Hill Hospital. Please view our flyer for more information.
Press Release - November 9, 2016
The Ridgefield Public Schools has embarked on a strategic coherence planning process to complete a deep, data-based review of current school district practice designed to create a system of schools all dedicated to the same high-leverage student success outcomes. The district’s strategic coherence planning committee was formulated in June 2016 and consisted of parents, teachers, principals, district leaders, town leaders, PTA leaders, and school board members. The strategic coherence planning committee is working to build consensus around a refined district mission, a vision of a successful RHS graduate and the key learning outcomes that accompany the vision.
The district is seeking input from all stakeholders on their perceptions and knowledge of the public school system. An electronic survey is available on the district’s website and all residents are encouraged to respond. You may also access the survey using the link below. The survey will be open for respondents until December 9, 2016. There may be questions that you do not have answers to and that is okay. For those questions, feel free to respond Not Sure/NA.
We will present the strategic coherence plan to the Ridgefield Board of Education in February 2017 for approval.
Parents, you are invited to the Parenting the #Selfie Generation series, "How to Raise an Adult," on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. at the Ridgefield Playhouse. This workshop will feature Julie Lythcott-Haims, author and former dean of Stanford University. This series is a collaboration of Ridgefield Public Schools, Ridgefield Council of PTA’s, Ridgefield Library, Ridgefield Youth Commission, Fairfield County Bank, Books on Common, Project Resilience, Town Vibe, and Silver Hill Hospital. Please view the flyer for more details. You may also view the complete schedule here.
This month our district will be closed for Election Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving, along with some early dismissals at the middle and elementary level to allow for parent/teacher conferences. Please make a note of the following dates.
- November 8: Schools closed for Election Day and Professional Development Day.
- November 11: Schools and offices closed for Veteran’s Day.
- November 15, 16, and 17: Early dismissal at all elementary schools only for parent/teacher conferences.
- November 23: Early dismissal at all schools for Thanksgiving holidays.
- November 24-25: Schools and offices closed for Thanksgiving.
The district calendar, as well as school hours and marking periods, are available in the about us section of the district website.
On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, the Ridgefield Public Schools, co-sponsored by the Ridgefield PTA Council, the Ridgefield Library, and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, will host a screening of the film Most Likely to Succeed for the Ridgefield community to open up a discussion about what it means to “re-imagine education.” There will be two showings of the film. A matinee will take place at the Ridgefield Library program room at 1:00 p.m., and an evening showing will take place at the East Ridge Middle School auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Following the evening screening, there will be an interactive discussion about the film and re-imagining education for the 21st century. For more information, please read the press release.
Parents, we would like to remind you of our communication and decisions regarding closings, delays, and early dismissals. The district will communicate the decision to parents to close school, delay the opening, or dismiss early using our electronic alert system. This system provides us with the capability to send a message to your home and cell phone by either text message, voice message, or e-mail. We will typically communicate Information related to delayed openings and school closures by 5:45 a.m. We will always post the district's status on the district’s website. Please take a moment to read our letter regarding school closings, delays, and early dismissals. Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions.
Please join our live online forum on data privacy on Thursday, October 20, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. In this forum, you will learn more about the state of Connecticut’s new law on data privacy, what we are doing within the district to protect student data, and our expectations for our staff and students. We will host the event on Facebook; however, you do not need to have a Facebook account to participate. Please feel free to submit questions in advance, and keep in mind that you will also have the opportunity to ask questions during the live online forum. For more information, please see the flyer.
We would also like to thank the parents who attended our previous online forum on YouTube and internet filtering. If you missed the event, you can watch it on our district Facebook page.
We take the utmost care and concern for the students and our community when adding and/or removing classes from the Ridgefield Public School curriculum. We would like to offer insight into the recent decision to cut the RHS German Language Program from the schedule starting the 2017-2018 school year.
Our teachers recently had a training day on Friday, September 30. Please take a moment to read more about the training our certified and non-certified staff received.
Parents, add new tools and strategies to your parenting skill set to help your child gain effective coping skills in dealing with stress. You are invited to the next event in The Parenting the Selfie Generation Series as it continues on Tuesday, October 4 with "Stress Busters: Teaching your Kids to Cope Effectively" featuring speakers Tracy Masella, LCSW (Silver Hill); Leslie Cohen-Rubury, LCSW; Elizabeth Archibald, MPH, RD; and Kristin Kiles of Ridgefield Public Schools. This series is a collaboration with Ridgefield Public Schools, Ridgefield Council of PTAs, Ridgefield Library, Ridgefield Youth Commission, Books on the Common, Project Resilience, and Silver Hill Hospital. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Ridgefield Library. We will follow this event with a brown-bag lunch discussion the next day at the Ridgefield Library at 12:00 noon. Please view this flyer for more details. View the series flyer for the complete schedule.
Twelve RHS students are semifinalists in the 2017 National Merit® Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) will be offering around 7,500 scholarships this spring, and the road to becoming a semifinalist is not an easy one. We are very proud of our RHS students! We invite you to learn more from our press release.
The next board of education meeting is Monday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the board conference room, Ridgefield Town Annex, 66 Prospect Street. Please view our Board of Education page for more information.
There is a special feeling in the air on the first day of school. For many in Ridgefield the first signs of the school year are the buses on our roads or the children and parents waiting at bus stops. For our children it is the moment of arrival, the walking into the building, the excitement filling every open door from the bus, to the building, to the classroom. It is feeling all the anticipation of moving up to a new grade, maybe a new school, with new teachers, and hopefully, new friends.
Since we can’t all be there, we asked our principals to share a highlight from the first day of school - a word, a sentence, or a paragraph. Some principals shared comments they heard in the hallways. Enjoy!
Lisa Singer, VPES Principal
“Students smiling coming off of the bus; teachers smiling and supportive of each other, and [the] students.”
Student: “[I’m] so excited to be in fifth grade this year!”
Student new to VP: “I had a great day; I love my new school.”
Teacher: “Even an indoor recess was fun and happy. No complaints.”
Jamie Palladino, Principal, RES
“We had a great day. Students and staff were excited to be back. Lots of hugs and high-fives.”
Student: “I love our school!”
Student: “My teacher is so nice.”
Student: “I can’t believe I am finally a fifth grader.”
Teacher: “We have a wonderful group of students.”
Teacher: “It is great to be back!”
Dr. Stacey Gross, Principal, RHS
“The class of 2020 was welcomed by a collaborative team of upperclassmen, faculty, and staff. The students were introduced to the vast amount of extracurricular opportunities and academic experiences the high school has to offer. The freshmen were able to experience first-hand the welcoming and supportive community that is the backbone of Ridgefield High School. We are enthusiastic about grades 10-12 joining us tomorrow and beginning what we anticipate will be a positive and rewarding year.”
Susan Gately, Principal, FES
“[Our first day back was] joyous, calm, happy!”
Student: “This is awesome! I am so lucky!”
Student : “I love it here.”
Teacher: “It’s like we’ve been a class for months.”
Teacher: “I have such a great class.”
Teacher: “A little tired and a lot happy.”
Joanna Genovese, Principal, SES
“The day went very well! Smiles and chatter filled our hallways.”
Student: “This must be a lucky day. I just lost my front tooth!”
Student: “This year is gonna be awesome!”
Student: “I just remembered, in third grade it’s ok to not know everything yet.”
Teacher: “What a great day!”
Teacher: “I am just going to love them up!”
Tim Salem, Principal, SRMS
Keith Margolus, Principal, BES
“Despite the rain, the climate at BES was anything but somber. It was amazing to see smiling faces bound off the bus and into their day. We look eagerly ahead to the highly engaging, relevant and personalized learning to take place this year.”
Rebecca Pembrook, Principal, BMES
“Welcoming our students back to school and having returning students lead new students through lunch orientations in order to have a ‘safe and friendly’ lunch for all students.”
And overheard in my neighborhood:
SES kindergartner: “I'm most excited about learning to read and write!"
SES 4th grade student: “I'm happy because I know everyone in my class! We opened up our school supplies and even did some line dancing with Ms. Lavender!”
To see pictures from the first day of school, visit Ridgefield Public Schools on Facebook. Have a great year, everyone!
A special thank you to Ruth W. Feldman, Ridgefield Public Schools communications coordinator, for this article.
We are pleased to welcome you to our new and improved website. We are very grateful to the many district and school staff members who worked together to envision a website that really reflects how much we care about our students. Our partnership with School Webmasters has made our vision a reality. We hope you check back in with us often!
Keep your children on track with these fun tips and tricks! We have a list of age-appropriate activities your child can do this summer and as we head back to school.
It has been a fun two and a half months of late nights and even later mornings. As summer draws to a close, parents everywhere are busy scouring stores for new shoes, lunch snacks, and school supplies. However, while the backpacks are filled with pencils, notebooks and hand sanitizer, are the kids really ready to go back to school? We offer few suggestions to help you start the year off with a bang:
- Make all the necessary appointments. Visit the doctor for a checkup, a sports physical, or to update your child's immunizations. Schedule their dental or eye exams, and try to fit in a haircut if needed. It's best to tend to these things in advance, so your child won’t have to miss any school.
- Establish morning, after school, and bedtime routines. It is a good idea to prepare your children for earlier and possibly hectic mornings before the first day of school. Ensuring your children have proper rest is essential to their success. If they experience anxiety when the routine is changed, be sure to discuss why the changes are happening.
- Make lists and stock up. Obtaining a copy of your children's schedules and posting a calendar with special classes such as P.E., music lessons, sports practices, and other important activities will help to reduce anxiety for both you and your children. It helps to write down the new routine and have everything they need to get ready on hand. Have a pack of sharpened pencils, fresh erasers, and other vital supplies available for easy access. This makes for a smoother transition and easier cleanup. The more organized they are, the more time they will have to enjoy free time and pitch in with household chores.
- Arm your child with information. Remind your children about important contact numbers, safety information, and contingency plans. Be sure to discuss with your child what arrangements you have made for transportation to and from school and regarding after school activities.
- Plan ahead. As a family, sit down and discuss each child's goals for the upcoming school year. Let your children know what you expect from them. Make sure backpacks are ready the night before with everything your child will need for the following day. Prepare the next day's breakfast and/or lunch, so that you aren't scrambling at the last minute. There are many websites with healthy lunchbox ideas such as Food.com, 100 Days of Real Food, and Cooking Light.
- Get involved. Be sure to attend your child’s back-to-school night to get all of the school's most important information. Typically this is the night teachers inform parents about class rules, volunteering opportunities, wish list items, and important dates. The more involved you are with the school, the more likely your child will succeed.
If you follow the suggestions above, you're sure to get your child off to a great start. For a comprehensive back to school checklist, feel free to visit the helpful online site, School Family. Good luck and have a great school year!